I try never to make predictions. It's much better to be the guy making fun of dumb predictions than the idiot making them.
But I'm going to break my rule and make one. This is the year the shit will hit the fan for the ad industry*.
The ad industry has been in deep snow for a long time. To wit:
- Reaping the rewards of ad fraud while their clients suffer
- Taking kickbacks by other names
- Directing client production business away from competitors and to themselves.
- Hiding and misrepresenting the truth about the horrible record of online advertising
- Adulterating ad buys with worthless "non-human" traffic (bots) to make them look more efficient
- And generally putting their self-interest above their clients'.
This will all come tumbling down on them this year. Here are some early indicators. According to Ad Age:
- 66% of advertisers are planning to review their creative agency
- 64% of advertisers are planning to review their media agency
- 61% are planning to review their digital agency
- 65% are planing to review their search agency
These numbers are unprecedented. The crazy thing is that client dissatisfaction seems so pervasive among the big 6 holding companies, what are these clients going to do? Hold a review and trade for a new flavor of what they already have. Also...
- "...confidence in digital or social platforms is significantly below 50%"
- 97% of marketers want digital media owners to have their inventory measured by a third party (I think I can hear Facebook and Google laughing.)
- 2/3 of marketers say they are questioning their "investment" (gag me) with Facebook (see last week's Newsletter)
Add to that...
- The "transparency" mess: distrust by the client community over the financial shenanigans of the holding companies and the ongoing investigation into "transparency" by the ANA
- The investigation by the Department of Justice into production bid rigging
- The abysmal quality of most online advertising, resulting in...
- The alarming growth of ad blocking
- The outrageous behavior of big agency aristocrats
- The agency industry's spineless disinterest in confronting the issues of viewability and fraud
What you have here is a perfect storm of unprincipled behavior and client dissatisfaction. This wave has been gathering momentum for years.This will be the year it comes crashing down around them.
Big shots will be fired. Agency employees will be indicted. Agencies will be held up to public scrutiny and ridicule. Clients will take some of their advertising business to non-agency entities. The lawyers and the PR people will be very busy.
2017 will be a turning point and a nightmare for the ad business. It will be hell for a lot of wonderful, hard-working people with integrity who will be victims of collateral damage.
The 4As has maybe 90 days to get together and develop a comprehensive strategy for dealing with these neglected issues. If they don't, heads will roll and the current agency model will be deeply wounded.
The plus side? Great material for asshole bloggers who've been trying to warn people...
*While ad fraud is systemic, I believe the issues of corruption and transparency are far more onerous in the "Wall Street" agencies than in the independent and regional agencies.